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Top spokeswoman for Senate GOP joins Cuomo as senior adviser

Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan, left, former Senate

Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan, left, former Senate Republican majority chief of staff Robert Mujica, and communications director and top adviser to the Senate's Republican majority Kelly Cummings, walk to Cuomo's office at the Capitol in Albany on Wednesday, May 13, 2015. Photo Credit: AP / Mike Groll

ALBANY — The communications director and top adviser to the Senate’s Republican majority, Kelly Cummings, is leaving the post she’s held since November 2010 to join the Cuomo administration.

Cummings, a Republican widely respected by Democrats in Albany, will become deputy chief of staff and senior adviser to Cuomo reporting directly to the governor, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said Wednesday.

She is the latest Republican hired by the Democratic administration. Late last year, Cuomo hired away Senate Republican majority Chief of Staff Robert Mujica to become his budget director. Mujica had been a widely respected secretary to the Senate Finance Committee part of his 19 years working for the Senate’s Republican conference.

Cummings has long been a firm and steady presence in the Republican conference and is among the highest ranking female staffers in Albany. She had previously worked for the late Sen. Ralph Marino (R-Oyster Bay) and Sen. Charles Fuschillo Jr. (R-Massapequa).

She had helped shape and present the message for former Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Centre) and continued the job with Skelos’ successor, Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan (R-East Northport).

“Kelly Cummings is an extraordinarily talented staffer who served two Senate leaders and the members of our Majority with distinction, professionalism and class,” Flanagan said.

“Kelly is a proven leader who for years has operated at the highest levels of state government and I am proud to have her join this administration,” Cuomo said.

“I am very excited for this opportunity to utilize my background and skills to work with Governor Cuomo to achieve positive results for the people of New York,” Cummings said.

Now the Republican majority will lose Cummings going into the fall legislative elections that will decide if the GOP maintains its slim majority control and the Republican Party’s only power base in state government.

Cummings is a graduate of St. Lawrence University.

Cummings will be replaced by Scott Reif, the press secretary to the Republican majority and a former member of the communications staff of ex-Gov. George Pataki.

“With nearly two decades of hands-on experience in the executive and legislative branches, including the last nine years with the Senate Republican Conference, Scott Reif is exactly the right person to lead the communications effort for our majority both now and in the future,” Flanagan said Wednesday.

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